GRANDPARENT AND THIRD PARTY CUSTODY VISITATION IN MINNESOTA
In Minnesota, addressing the custodial placement of children with persons other than a biological parent is not impossible. “Third-party custodians” frequently include grandparents or other biological relatives and, even, stepparents or persons who are not biologically related to the child but who have a long-established relationship with the child. Minnesota also recognizes “de facto custodians” as set forth below.
If you are a grandparent and are seeking custody and visitation rights in MINNESOTA, you can request visitation when:
- one of the child’s parents has died;
- as part of the parents’ divorce or separation; or
- if the child has resided with the grandparents for 12 months or more and the parents then remove the child from the grandparents’ home.
The grandparents (or even great-grandparents) of a minor child may petition a court for visitation rights. The court will consider whether grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child, The rights may be granted if the court finds that visitation would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. In considering the grandparents’ petition, the court will consider the amount of personal contact between the grandparent and the grandchild. It may be helpful for the grandparent petitioning the court to provide evidence about things like outings with the child, time spent babysitting the child, or even helping take the child to medical appointments or after-school activities may be to the Court.
A parent may on their own, object to the Grandparents’ Petition for visitation. This objection will not be enough, on its own, to make the court deny visitation rights to a grandparent, however, the court also will not award a grandparent visitation simply because the grandparent has had a relationship with the child. Further, once a motion for grandparent visitation has been heard and denied, no subsequent motion may be filed within six months thereafter.
The Minnesota third-party custody statute contains a specific list of best interest factors that are to be considered when filing a petition. It also provides information on who may file a third-party custody petition, where it must be filed, and what it must contain. Further, in Minnesota there are two classes of petitioners: — de facto custodians and interested third parties —
with the classification dependent on the amount of time the child has been with the petitioner and the nature of their contacts. A de facto custodian may have an easier time establishing a basis for custody than will an interested third party. Third party-custody remains a viable option for the placement of a child. However, whether it is a grandparent, some other relative, or some completely unrelated person with a significant interest and relationship with a child who seeks placement or custody, the third party generally must make a strong showing to the court that the biological parent seeking custody is either an unfit parent or has abandoned the child, or that there are some other extraordinary circumstances not related to parental fitness that would justify placement or custody with the third party. The placement must also be in the child’s best interests.
Note: The foregoing information is provided as general family law guidelines in Minnesota and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case. After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to About The Children.
By Linda O’Marie – Consulting Paralegal